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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Howard County as the .08 percenters

    We hear a great deal these days about income inequality in the United States.  What is even more telling is the income inequality in the World. The chart above shows that about 85% of the world's population has an income of $10,000 or less a year.  I recently read an article in the Atlantic magazine that brought this reality out in a way that was very dramatic.  How many of the richest people in the world does it take to equal the wealth of the poorest 3 billion of the world's population?   Try 85.  I don't know exactly how this situation would compare with past history but I doubt that it will change anytime in the future.   You can compare where you rank by income with the rest of the world at this site.  Using this site I put in the median income for Howard County and found out that the median family in Howard County would be in the top .08% of the world's population.  This means that for every 1,250 people in the world a person with the median income of Howard County would be at the top.  Sometimes we have to stop and realize how fortunate we are in comparison to the rest of the world's inhabitants.

     From the National Geographic magazine:

"As the face of hunger has changed, so has its address. The town of Spring, Texas, is where ranchland meets Houston’s sprawl, a suburb of curving streets and shade trees and privacy fences. The suburbs are the home of the American dream, but they are also a place where poverty is on the rise. As urban housing has gotten more expensive, the working poor have been pushed out. Today hunger in the suburbs is growing faster than in cities, having more than doubled since 2007.

Yet in the suburbs America’s hungry don’t look the part either. They drive cars, which are a necessity, not a luxury, here. Cheap clothes and toys can be found at yard sales and thrift shops, making a middle-class appearance affordable. Consumer electronics can be bought on installment plans, so the hungry rarely lack phones or televisions. Of all the suburbs in the country, northwest Houston is one of the best places to see how people live on what might be called a minimum-wage diet: It has one of the highest percentages of households receiving SNAP assistance where at least one family member holds down a job. The Jefferson sisters, Meme and Kai, live here in a four-bedroom, two-car-garage, two-bath home with Kai’s boyfriend, Frank, and an extended family that includes their invalid mother, their five sons, a daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren. The house has a rickety desktop computer in the living room and a television in most rooms, but only two actual beds; nearly everyone sleeps on mattresses or piles of blankets spread out on the floor.

Though all three adults work full-time, their income is not enough to keep the family consistently fed without assistance. The root problem is the lack of jobs that pay wages a family can live on, so food assistance has become the government’s—and society’s—way to supplement low wages. The Jeffersons receive $125 in food stamps each month, and a charity brings in meals for their bedridden matriarch.

Like most of the new American hungry, the Jeffersons face not a total absence of food but the gnawing fear that the next meal can’t be counted on. When Meme shows me the family’s food supply, the refrigerator holds takeout boxes and beverages but little fresh food. Two cupboards are stocked with a smattering of canned beans and sauces. A pair of freezers in the garage each contain a single layer of food, enough to fill bellies for just a few days. Meme says she took the children aside a few months earlier to tell them they were eating too much and wasting food besides. “I told them if they keep wasting, we have to go live on the corner, beg for money, or something.”



Anonymous said...

Minor nit - you have to take the reciprocal of the 0.08%. So the correct statement is " This means that for every 1,250 people in the world a person with the median income of Howard County would be at the top."

Why, yes, I *am* a math geek. :-)

duanestclair said...

Thanks. Correction made. I am obviously not a "math geek."

duanestclair said...
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